Many of us drive through Edith Street in Waratah on a weekly basis. It’s commonly known as the home of The Calvary Mater Hospital.
Just up from the hospital is the Maroba retirement complex. Many of us don’t know the history that this site had with the building of Newcastle’s strong harbour breakwater.
More than 100 years ago it was known as ‘No.2 Quarry’ or ‘Platt’s Quarry.’ The finest stone was found at this site with some areas having stone that was 50 feet thick. Between October 1898 and June 1900 stone was cut from Platts Quarry to build the Stockton breakwater. Approximately 50,000 tonnes was transported between 1898 to 1900 from Waratah to Stockton to build the breakwater out into the ocean. Each stone block weighed up to 34 tonnes each.
To lift these immense stone blocks a 30 tonne steam crane was constructed at the centre of the quarry which required 24 men to operate it (see below picture). Once the stone was quarried it was taken by railway to a wharf in Carrington and then ferried across the Hunter River to the north Stockton foreshore. From here a 30 tonne gantry crane at Clyde Street, Stockton, was then used to lift the stone blocks onto a railway tip-wagon for final placement on the breakwall. The Stockton breakwater was built 80 years after convicts built Macquarie Pier on the opposite side of the harbour at Nobbys. Without the heavy stone from Waratah the larger, longer and stronger breakwater in Stockton would not have been possible. The breakwater was finished in 1912.
Waratah has a vast history in the building of Newcastle as it had many quarries operating since the 1870’s. Back then Waratah was much a larger area than it is now.